Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Changes abound

Eleven months. Our Andrew is 11 months old. All of a sudden, I am busy planning a first birthday party and weaning him from bottle to cup and gently starting to potty train.
You've come a long way, baby! But, I think your Mommy has come even further. It's easy to see the changes in Andrew. Here's a little run down of his latest feats, big and small:
Words, words, words! Andrew is talking up a storm and surprising us everyday with new words and keeping us laughing with what seems to be pitch perfect comedic timing. Mama, Dada and Papa are still his most commonly said words, but he also says stop, go, bye, Dixie (my parent's dog), Dee Dee (for Brody), Nea Nea (for cousin Nathan and Aunt Renee), cracker, ball and small sentences like "I love you," "I love grits," "I got it," "I drop it," and his latest and cutest phrase "ho ho ho" for Santa Claus and snowmen. His communication skills both verbal and non verbal continue to amaze me.
He is not walking yet, but is cruising around and will stand alone while playing with a toy or reaching for something. It seems he has stretch arms and will work and figure out ways to get things that are out of his reach. For example, he has an Elmo place mat at my mom's and he pushes it underneath the napkin holder, salt shaker or sugar dish and then carefully slides the mat back to him, bringing with it the object of his desire.
He is a happy baby, content to play on his own but equally happy to have me or one of his cousins down on the floor with him playing invented games. One of his newest skills is pushing toy cars, trucks, tractors and trucks along while he's crawling and about a week ago, he started making motor sounds for all his automobiles as they roll along.
Though I have certainly allowed him to play with all types of toys, his favorite things are balls and things with wheels. Some things just come naturally to little boys, I suppose. He also loves books and can "point" with his thumb at certain pictures in some of his books when asked to do so. He can respond to certain commands like, "look at me" or "give me that" but when told "NO!" he usually gives me a mischievous grin and goes on with what he's doing. He looks so much like his father and acts so much like him that he would make a good case study in the nature vs. nurture argument. His dad isn't even around and I see him doing things like Greg does or making facial expressions just like Greg makes. He loves to wrestle with Brody and I'm thankful that Brody is a tolerant and gentle playmate. He still does a great job sleeping at night and he is completely fed from the table now. He loves most every food he's tried but bread appears to be his favorite food. Like father, like son. He is an expert imitator. He tries to talk on the phone, use the remote, brush his hair and his teeth just like he sees mommy do. He doesn't want me to feed him anymore but has yet to get food on the spoon and get it to his mouth with food still on it. For about two weeks now, he has used the potty every morning. He is a pretty regular guy and after reading about potty training in one of my mom's old Dr. Spock books about his toilet training methods, I decided that I didn't need to wait any longer to get Andrew accustomed to the potty. So, every morning after he's had his bottle, I put him on the potty and every morning with only one exception he has had a bowel movement in the potty. I know that he isn't trained and probably won't be for another year or so, but he is comfortable on the potty and seems to understand exactly what to do when he sits down and he doesn't try to get up. So, I take that to be progress. Andrew wears 12 and 18 month clothes. He weighed 24 pounds on Halloween so I'm sure he's up to 25 by now. Oh and he has four teeth -- two bottom and two slowly coming down on top.
So, that's the long and short of all things Andrew. He is a sweet natured baby who loves to cuddle, kiss and hug. And I am more than happy to indulge him!
I guess it's not so easy to see the changes in me. Well, unless you count the extra weight I'm still lugging around (I don't want to talk about it). I'm a different person than I was a year ago. I'm not sure I could ever explain how being Andrew's mother has morphed me into this other person who is a better, truer, fiercer version of my former self. Every day I wonder how there was ever any joy in my life before Andrew because he simply fills every moment of the day with a happiness that is pretty amazing. I tell Greg all the time that I don't know how I would make it through this year without Andrew. The days pass quickly. There is laughter, singing, cuddling, learning, playing and wonder in every day. There are long, luxuriously tender afternoon naps together. There's a sense that I am not alone even though Greg is not here. I have our son here with me and the light he shines into my days fills up the dark spaces created by this deployment.
I suppose I could have predicted this joy. I suppose I could have predicted the love. I could have predicted the pride I would feel in my son. I guess what would have eluded me a year ago would be the enormity of it -- the magnitude -- the way my relationship with my son would leave me completely humbled and grateful and awed.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A dirty shirt

There's a moment that I would guess every military spouse knows all too well. You half heartedly decide to finally attack that growing mountain of laundry and while sorting the whites, the darks and all that fall somewhere in between you find the last piece of clothing worn by your husband before he left for parts unknown.
I don't know about other spouses, but I usually bury my face in said item and inhale that lingering scent before throwing it into the wash. For me, that moment came last week, when all the other laundry from Greg's visit home had been washed, dried, folded and placed in a suitcase that will live at my parents' house until Greg comes home because we simply don't have room for it out here in our trailer.
Finally, last week, I got around to unpacking the small bag I took up to Baltimore and added those dirty clothes to the laundry mountains in the hall way. There, with my favorite jacket and my "date night" dress were Greg's clothes from our night out. I brought them home with me because there's no need for "civvies" over there.
The dress shirt, one of my favorite things to see my husband wear, still smelled like him. Greg doesn't usually wear cologne and our night out was no different. The smell that lingered there on the collar was simply the smell of my husband. It's familiar, safe, clean ... intoxicating.
I buried my face in the shirt and cried my eyeballs out.
I still haven't washed that shirt. I folded it and put it up on the bookcase-style headboard of my borrowed bed.
When I was a little girl, my grandmother died. My mom gave me one of her house dresses and I slept with it for months. I loved inhaling that scent -- it was a mix of soap and fried chicken and some indescribable something. But, after a few weeks, that smell faded and I had to try really hard to find even the faintest whiff of my grandmother on that house dress.
I haven't slept with Greg's shirt. I have picked it up and inhaled that sweet smell from time to time. I know that like Grandma Bessies's house dress, Greg's shirt will soon be just another dirty shirt atop a mountain of laundry.
I miss my husband.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I said goodbye to my husband Wednesday. Really, we had six days of goodbye. Greg flew home to NC on Friday and on Monday morning, we dropped him off at the airport to fly back to Louisiana, so he could take a bus to Houston to fly up to Baltimore. The infinite wisdom of the U.S. military is astounding sometimes. (This is a picture of my handsome fellas I took over the weekend.)
On Tuesday, I took the 50 minute flight from RDU up to Baltimore Washington International and waited in the USO for Greg’s flight to arrive a couple of hours later. It’s the same USO where we nervously waited for our flight to Italy when we moved there in 2005, the same USO that welcomed me home countless times over those four years when I’d take what is known in military circles as a “hop,” essentially serving as a seat filler on a military chartered flight that left once a week every week from our base in Italy to Baltimore.  BWI is more familiar to me than any other airport because I’ve spent so much time there over the years and the USO has always been a little haven where I could sit down, have a cup of coffee, watch TV, make phone calls or use the computers. As I sat there waiting for Greg’s flight to arrive, I couldn’t help but think of how many of the biggest transitions of my life have started right there in that room: moving to Italy, flying to the states for IVF treatments, moving back to the states after four years in Italy and now, oddly enough, seeing my husband off for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. I thought about how every time we have experienced one of these life changing events, we couldn't see what was down the road but we found blessings at every turn. In Italy, we were surrounded by the love of a close circle of friends and we traveled and ate and drank and spent a good part of our four years there in absolute awe. Our failed IVFs tested us, strenghtened us and make us ever so grateful for this sweet sweet life. Louisiana was horrible, but it brought us to Dr. V and now we have our miracle boy. I wondered what blessings this deployment might hold in store for us. In a few years, will we look back and feel grateful for this experience?
 A year flies by. I know this because our precious son will soon be a year old. And, yet, when I think of an entire year without my husband, it feels like an eternity lies before me. Andrew will have his first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, and first birthday. A New Year will begin. Winter. Spring. Summer. Fall. Our world will change. Our son will change. And all this will happen without Greg here to see it, to feel it, to live it.
My husband was unusually quiet while he was home. Greg is nothing if not boisterous. My mama says he has the happiest face she’s ever seen. But he was not himself. Parts of him were already gone. I’ve seen this from him time and again over the years. When our second IVF failed and we returned to Italy, we had less than a week before he left on a five-month deployment. I grieved mightily while it seemed Greg had flipped a switch somewhere in his brain, turning off his emotions and turning his focus to the job in Kuwait that awaited him.
This time was a bit different. I didn’t need him to grieve with me. We have had a year to come to terms with the reality of this deployment. We have our sweet boy now so the pain of infertility is gone, replaced by this great big love. At this point, tears won’t do us any good. Talking about it, well, we’ve done that. We’ve talked about it until there really was nothing left to say.
On Sunday night, Andrew fell asleep in my arms while drinking his bedtime bottle. I asked Greg if he wanted to hold his son for a while before I put him in his crib. Andrew is so active these days and so curious and so busy that to get him to sit still in your lap for a good cuddle is quite a feat. Those tender moments are usually reserved for those first and last waking minutes of the day. I placed Andrew in his father’s arms and went about the business of washing bottles and getting ready for our pre-dawn drive to the airport. It took a few minutes for me to realize that Greg was crying as he held our snoring son. Just like the night before he left for training and I found him hunched over Andrew’s crib crying, this scene broke my heart.
And so, the uniformed man I met at the Baltimore airport had already said his goodbyes to his son and his thoughts were focused on the days ahead – the travelling, the job, and the danger. He tried hard to be there with me and there were moments when I felt the weight lifted from his shoulders but they were fleeting.
On Tuesday, I awoke early (even though it was the very first morning since Andrew was born when I could have slept as long as I wanted). I watched Greg sleeping, the cool gray light of a rainy morning lit his face. His breath was steady, his face was peaceful. I laid my head on his chest, my hand covering his heart. And I begged God to place a shield around him. I silently pleaded with God to deliver him back to us in a year – whole in body, in mind and in spirit. I tried to push away thoughts that this could be the last time I would ever wake up next to my husband.
We spent the next hours in relative silence. I went over the rules again: no helicopters, no volunteering for dangerous shit, no being the hero and lastly, no worrying about us.
At the airport, we sat in the observation area, which gave us a certain amount of privacy. We held hands and watched the planes take off and land. A steady rain fell outside and the raindrops on the glass reminded me of teardrops – like a Holocaust memorial we once visited in Boston where steam continuously forms condensation on the glass panels so they appear to be crying.
My own tears came later, during our last moments together. I was wrapped tightly in the safest place I’ve ever known – my husband’s arms -- and I felt myself giving way under the weight of the moment. There are moments in a marriage that are so intimate and tender that to try to describe them would be foolish. There simply are no words.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Oh my poor neglected blog.

Nearly everyday I have an amazing idea for a post -- you know, a real post that has real writing and isn't just a laundry list of Andrew's newest milestones or what's going on in my life -- but it seems I always choose to curl up in the big blue castoff recliner that sits in my living room and just do nothing at the end of the day.

Our Andrew, well, he's amazing, of course. The baby who we couldn't take anywhere as a newborn because of his crying jags has turned into the happiest, sweetest baby in the world. I can take him anywhere and he's usually content to look around at the great big world, make friends with passersby and just be his cute, happy self.

He will be 10 months old on Sunday. That means I've already started looking at party themes, party supplies, and first birthday gifts. It's so crazy. He is crawling on hands and knees now, has been for about two weeks, pulls up on everything and forgets he can't walk from time to time and then quickly remembers when he falls.

He is a world class explorer and he gets into everything. Just yesterday his little fingers found a candy dish on a side table at my mom's house and then he took his treasure and hid under said table. We would have had a hard time finding him except he was giggling from underneath the tablecloth.

He is a big talker already. He says all kinds of things. The most amazing being "I love you." And, you might think I'm making that up, except I have video of it and can prove it. He also says "hey there" and "Got it" and "No no no no" (usually to the dog).

He loves to eat and has pretty much decided that he's done with baby food except for during breakfast time when I can still get some fruit into him. I still haven't found anything he won't eat.
Just this week he's been sick for the first time with a cold. Seeing him sick really gets to me. I can only imagine how bad it's going to be when he gets the flu or something like that. He still only has one tooth but I'm expecting the one beside it to pop up any day now.

 The biggest news I have is that after getting a contingency offer on our house in early October, we got a better offer just this week. It's a cash offer so we will be closing next week and that means I have already made our very last mortgage payment! The offer was more than we could have hoped for, being that we were fully financed with a VA loan and have only owned the house for a little over two years. This turn of events is an answered prayer.

My parents, Andrew and I spent a few days in the Blue Ridge Mountains last week and it was wonderful. The picture here is one I took of him in the yard of the house we rented. It was a beautiful place.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The whole tooth and nothing but the tooth...

The long awaited first tooth is finally here! It popped up a week or so ago after a couple of particularly grumpy days. There was a slight fever, an upset tummy and then, like magic, the top of a sharp little white tooth appeared.
The arrival of this tooth, has made me sentimental. Time is passing so quickly and I am beginning to grasp just how fleeting all this sweet yummy babyness really is.
A part of me is longing to stop time so that I can savor every moment of this sweet, sweet time. But then, I start desperately missing my husband and wishing I could fast forward to next year, when we're all together again.
Andrew and I have settled into a nice routine here at our new little home. We spend a lot of time snuggling and playing and learning. It doesn't take a lot of effort to keep this tiny house clean and I do my work at night when Andrew is sleeping. Andrew's newest feats are as follows: He can back into a sitting position when crawling, he can get his little star shaped spinach and apple puffs to his mouth every time (almost) with his little pincher grasp, he can make the "L" sound (as in la la la la), wave bye bye pretty consistently, play tug with Brody, and about a thousand other little things I can't think of right now. He really does learn something new everyday.
Andrew and Wyatt are starting to really interact with each other more. Wyatt just learned to say "Andy" but what he says sounds more like "Annie." It is pretty adorable.
I know I've probably said it before, but my Andrew is just the sweetest baby. He is so loving. Every morning we walk over to my parents' house for coffee and breakfast and Andrew is in the habit of going first to my mother and "loving" her and then he leans over to "love" my dad, putting his little face against my Dad's face. Of course, this just turns them into mush. He loves to cuddle up and give big wet sloppy kisses.
As for me, well, I'm trying to keep my mind off the stressful things -- like the fact that my husband is going to be gone to a very dangerous place for a whole year and the fact that our house hasn't sold. I'm going to Weight Watchers and just signed up for a Zumba class. I am trying to get back down to my pre pregnancy weight by the time Andrew is a year old. I've waited a long time to start this, but the pending deployment and the move just made it pretty hard for me to focus on myself.
One last note, I am feeling more like myself than I have in a long time. Being near my family and taking this medication my doctor prescribed for my PPD has really changed things. I was very reluctant to take the meds and didn't actually start taking it until months after it was prescribed. I wish so badly that I had started taking it back when I got the prescription. It has been a small miracle for me.
I know it's something people don't talk about because it is quite embarrassing to say that you need help and there is a whole stigma attached to depression. But, I was in quite a funk and now I'm back to being me. I will keep taking the medication because I think with Greg being gone, I am likely to slip back into depression. I don't want to be that person ever again. I like being me.
To anyone who might read this if you find yourself in a similar funk, don't hesitate. Get some help. It makes a world of difference and that is the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth!

Friday, September 9, 2011

So long

It's been so long since I blogged. Seems I can only manage a post a month. Bah.
I feel bad about that. It's not what I'd pictured when I started this blog.

The long and short of it goes something like this:

Andrew is eight months old. Holy cow! I am more in love with him everyday. He crawls now -- well he army crawls. He is the fastest low crawler you've ever seen. He gets up on his hands and knees and rocks back and forth but when it's time to move, he drops down onto his belly and pulls with his chubby little arms and pushes with his little toes and scoots all over the place. He still doesn't have any teeth. I am assuming they are in there by the looks of his gums, but they are certainly taking their sweet time. He still loves to eat. We are still doing baby food but more and more he is eating table food. Or as Greg calls it "human" food, as if I've been feeding Andrew hamster or dog food for the past four months. He loves it all -- hummus, potatoes, peas, pasta, beans, fruit -- even cooked onions. He is so smart and everyday he amazes me. He loves anything with a string or tassle but his favorite thing is to pull my hair. He says "mama" "dada" and "papa" and makes sounds that are like "hey" and "no." He makes a sound like "eeehhh" when he fusses at Brody or at Wyatt (for some reason he loves to fuss at Wyatt).

We made the move from Louisiana home to North Carolina. My parents flew out to LA to make the trip back with me and Andrew in the van and Greg left a day later in his truck pulling the Uhaul trailer full of our stuff. We spent a night in Alabama and then another in Georgia with my cousin Amy and her family. It was a long trip, but Andrew did wonderful. He only got grumpy a couple of times and that was at the end of the day.

We got settled into our little temporary home here and it is nice. We went up to Massachusetts to visit Greg's family before he left. We tried to spend quality time together. He tried to do everything he could think of to make it easier for me.

The night before Greg left, I gave him Andrew's bedtime bottle and sent him off to put our little one to bed. After a long while, I could hear Andrew fussing so I went down the hall and found Greg hunched over Andrew's crib, patting Andrew's bottom and crying his eyes out -- his whole body shook and the tears just ran down his face. It broke my heart.

Greg has been gone almost a week. He's in training until mid-November. The good news this week is that he will get to come home during a long weekend in October -- the weekend before our ninth anniversary. I had thought we would be apart for both our ninth and tenth anniversaries. But, we will get to celebrate this one together and I'm grateful for that.

My parents and my entire family have been great. There is something to be said for having Granny and Papa so close. Andrew loves spending time with them and so do I, of course. My niece Kelli comes over to watch movies and drink wine with me and my sisters drop in for short visits almost everyday.

Our house in Louisiana still hasn't sold. We are hopeful that it will sell but we think we will eventually have to rent it out. I miss the house, but not nearly as much as I miss my husband. Home truly is where the heart is.

I leave you with one of the photographs Liz took the week before we moved. Andrew didn't want to smile for her -- which is odd since he's always smiling. But she got some beautiful shots despite that fact.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What's a house anyway?

When we first met with our realtor back in May, she took a look around the house and told us what to do before we put it on the market. The only painting she suggested was to cover the stripe in Andrew's nursery.

I can't do it. Maybe after we move and his little room is empty, his crib and his toys all packed up I'll be able to cover the stripe. But, for now, the thought of covering it up makes me feel very sad.

I waited so long to create his nursery. When I was pregnant I would sit in his room in the glider rocker and talk to him and sing to him and dream of the day when he would be a reality in my arms. His room is easily my favorite room in the house. We spend hours in there, playing and rocking and cuddling. The light blue paint color is called "subtle breeze" and it makes me think of the ocean and the sky.

This is the house we dared to dream that another round of IVF could work for us. It's the house where we mourned another failure. It's where we were when we decided for one last attempt -- an FET. I got my first inkling that it had worked when I took an HPT in our bathroom, snapping a photo of that nearly invisible pink line with my cell phone and sending it to Greg. It's the house where we rejoiced in our pregnancy and took that tenuous journey. It's the home that welcomed our sweet baby boy and where he has spent the first seven months of his life.

I have an emotional attachment to this house, despite the fact that I desperately want to leave Louisiana. I wish I could pick this house up like a turtle and move it right along with us. So many wonderful memories live here.

But, I tell myself, it's just a house. Memories live in your mind and heart, not in the four walls that make a house. Andrew will have other rooms and he will be happy no matter where we live. A house is just a house, right? Maybe this is a good luck house. Maybe the next people who live here will find a lot of joy, just as we did. A young couple came last night to take a second look at the house. Andrew was already sleeping for the night, so we couldn't leave. They are getting married in November and are buying their first home. Who knows, maybe this house will one day welcome home their new baby.

It's time for me to let go. But don't expect me to paint over that stripe.

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Oh it's been so long since I blogged. There just doesn't seem to be enough time in the day.
Things are changing very quickly. As you can see, our Andrew is growing and changing. He will be seven months old soon. So hard to believe. He is a happy baby. He rarely cries, but makes a sound when he isn't happy that sounds like a grumpy old man. He is sitting up but now crawling yet. He has little interest in crawling. He's more interested in standing up. In fact, it's difficult to get him to sit up on his own now because he puts pressure on his feet as if to stand up and falls backward. He loves to play with a ball -- any ball -- he uses his feet to pass it to his hands and will even pick the ball up with his feet.
He and I went back to NC for a couple of weeks while Greg worked long hours as part of an inspection. I just couldn't stay here where it's so lonely. While we were gone, Greg got the go ahead for his deployment. So, when I got home, we hit the ground running trying to get the house ready to put on the market. In four days, I managed to declutter, debaby and clean this house. It's up for sale now and we've had several showings but no offers yet. Still hopeful that we'll get an offer soon.
We took Andrew to the lake while I was in NC and he loved it. Just this past weekend we took him on the nine-hour drive to Destin, Fla. which is a most beautiful place. We go there every year for Greg to play in a softball tournament. This year, we met my cousin Amy and her family there and rented a condo. We had a great time, but it wasn't long enough. Andrew loved the ocean and would laugh every time a wave would come and we would lift him up over it.
He is an easy going baby that is certain. He is natured like his Daddy, always smiling and laughing and never getting too stressed out. He is eating three solid meals a day and I have yet to find anything he doesn't like. At the beach, I fed him hummus off my plate and he LOVED it. He smiled every time I put it on his tongue. So I guess I'll be making hummus pretty soon!
He loves to jump in his rainforest jumperoo that I bought on craigslist. He also likes his walker but is still going backward not forward. He can say "hey" and has said "mama" but only when he is mad. Figures! He says "hey" quite often now and does it at the funniest times. Yesterday, he and Brody were in a staring contest and all of a sudden Andrew pipes up with "hey." I know some folks think babies his age can't say anything with meaning, but I have to disagree. Most of the time, when we go to get him out of his crib in the morning, he says "hey."
He also said it once in the middle of the night when I had put him in my bed with me at my mom's to keep him from waking up the entire house. I was trying to see if he had gone back to sleep and put my face very close to his to see if his eyes were closed and he said "hey." lol I nearly fell off the bed!
His short naps continue, but I guess I've grown used to it and I've been so busy that I haven't had time to worry about it anyway. He is a healthy boy -- he weighed 20 lb. 3 oz. at his six month check up and was 28 inches long. He wears 12 month onesies and sleepers and 9 month shorts and T-shirts. He is very loveable and his little fat cheeks were made for kissing! Still no teeth yet, but he seems to be working on it. One of his favorite things to do these days is pull on hair, glasses, earrings, necklaces, noses and lips! Ouch!
In a couple of weeks, Andrew and I will move home to NC where my dad is setting us up in a mobile home. Greg will be with us for a while and then he will return to Louisiana for 2.5 months of training before he heads to Afghanistan. I don't have to tell anyone how heartbreaking it is for me to think of a year without my husband. My heart breask for Greg for having to leave our sweet baby boy. But we will get through it with the love and support of family and friends.
Exciting news for me on a professional level came last week when my cousin asked me to do some writing for a new company he is starting. I feel like this will give me something to focus on while Greg is gone (other than Andrew, of course!).
I wish you all could see my sweet baby. He certainly was worth the wait.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Our Andrew is such a funny little person! This is a picture of him trying to gnaw on Greg's nose. Seems he thought it was pretty funny, too.
Our baby keeps us laughing everyday with the things he does. I think he's teething right now, so that has made for some funny moments like this one. I bought him a walker last week. I know, they caution parents about walkers because of saftey hazards, but we live in a slab built house that has no steps inside or out and we live in the flattest place on earth -- not a hill around for miles and miles. So our house and our patio are pretty safe terrain. Not that he's figured out how to make it go yet -- well, he goes backwards sometimes but not forwards. He has figured out that the steering wheel toy on the walker makes a good teether. So he just sits there in his little car, gnawing on the steering wheel and it plays music everytime he bites down.
I went out with a friend last night to dinner and then to a painting class. It was pretty fun and I left Andrew with Greg. I wasn't very worried since Greg always helps me put Andrew down for the night and knows our bedtime routine by heart. But I did miss giving my sweet baby his goodnight kisses.
He is trying his best to sit up, but he's very unsteady and falls over easily unless we prop him up or give him some help. He will get up on his knees when on his tummy, but usually prefers to roll to his back. Three times yesterday I could have sworn he said "hey." He is such a little wonder!
Andrew is very a loveable baby. He is just a cuddle bug! He loves to be kissed and to "hug" by laying his head against mine. He is just the sweetest baby in the world.
How'd we get so lucky?

Friday, June 17, 2011


We're still in limbo here, waiting to see if Greg is really going to deploy or not. We're not likely to know until mid-July. This has made for many a sleepless night for me lately.
Andrew hasn't been keeping me awake. He's still doing great with his night sleep. But I've been tossing and turning -- I can't shut my brain off when I lie down. So many things have been going through my mind. How are we going to get the house ready in time to put it on the market? Will we be able to sell the house? If we can't sell the house and we're stuck with a mortgage what are we going to do -- rent it out? What if something goes wrong, I can't run back to Louisiana to take care of it. How am I going to survive a whole year without my husband? How is he going to survive being away from Andrew that long. Andrew will be almost 2 years old when he gets back. So much is going to happen and Greg is going to miss it all. And, the most worrisome thought -- the one I try to push out of my mind -- what if something horrible happens to my husband over there?
My parents have offered to set Andrew and I up in a mobile home next door to them if Greg leaves. This will be perfect because we'll have a space of our own, no rent to pay and all our loved ones just a few steps away. I'll be able to save a lot of money for our next house. And a part of me is really looking forward to all of that. But Greg won't be there and that makes my stomach ache.
I know time goes by fast, but a year (well, actually more than a year with the training added in) without Greg will no doubt be a long hard year. I wish we just knew one way of the other. We've spent the last nine months or so worrying over this deployment and now that it's only a couple of months away, I just wish a decision would be made and we'd be able to start moving on in one direction or the other.
No, this post isn't really about Andrew. But, this is what has been on my mind lately.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Five months

Sweet Andrew,
You are five months old! Just between me and you, I think you are starting to look more like me as you get older. I used to only see your Daddy when I looked at you, but now I catch glimpses of myself in your big blue eyes. I like that.
You are so precious these days. Of course, you always have been, but now you are starting to interact more and more with the world around you and I love how you are becoming this inquisitive, funny, loving baby.
My favorite thing about you at this age is how you put your head on my shoulder or my chest while you pat me with your chubby little hand. I just swoon everytime. It gives me so much happiness.
You wake up smiling these days. You are a world champion overnight sleeper. You usually go to bed between 5:30 and 6 p.m. and you usually sleep until 6:30 a.m. You don't have to be fed at night. On the rare occasion that we hear from you during the night, it's usually just a sleep cry (or sometimes a laugh) and you settle down quickly and return to peaceful slumber. We are eternally grateful for this!
You aren't such a great napper. You usually take four brief naps during the day, some as short as 20 minutes and some as long as 45 minutes. This doesn't give me much time but I'm learning to just go with it. Right now, you tend to get a little crabby in between your naps. I'm hopeful that in the future you will begin to nap longer and that those naps will give you the rest you need to be happy when you're awake.
You have started eating solid foods twice a day. You really love to eat! No surprise there! You love to feed yourself these baby rice cakes that probably taste like cardboard. I have tried all your baby foods but didn't have the courage to take a bite of that rice rusk. I'm pretty sure it tastes a lot like a communion wafer. Yuk. But you love it! You cry when your bottle ends. You cry when your baby food ends. You cry when your rice cake is gone.
Otherwise, you are a pretty happy boy. You love to watch Brody and you like to get your hands on him. You love anything that is musical -- a toy, the radio, the television. You sometimes enjoy watching Barney on TV when he is singing but you turn away when the music stops. There is a show called Super Why that has a little princess on it. You laugh out loud at her sometimes.
Not that you watch a lot of TV. You are usually playing with your toys or interacting with me. You still like your swing, but I'm afraid you're about to grow out of it. We just bought you an outdoor swing, but your dad hasn't put it up yet. I think you are going to love it.
You're a big boy. You wear 12 month size footed sleepers and 9 month body suits. You have nearly outgrown your infant car seat, but we have been reluctant to move you up to the convertible car seat because you can't sit up by yourself yet and I'm just not quite sure of what to do with you when I go shopping or to a restaurant if we don't have the portable car seat.
You laugh out loud at some point nearly every day. But it is odd what you find funny. Daddy is pretty funny. Brody is hilarious. Mommy is not very funny at all though she tries really hard to make you laugh.
You find some words or sounds pretty funny. Words that start with the "Z" sound usually get a smile from you, so we often say things like "zebra," "zuchinni" and, your dad's favorite, "zipper head." You also like the "p" sound like in the word "hop" or "flip flop." I think you take after me -- you like words and you like music.
You have started making a very high pitched squealing sound and your dad tells you it sounds like a girl but I think it's a beautiful noise! Everyday, I say "mama and dada" to you in hopes that you will mimic me, but no luck so far.
You don't see a lot of other faces, but when you do, you smile and coo and are usually pretty happy. I know this will soon change.
You can roll now, both ways but you tend to get stuck on your tummy when you're sleeping and you will scream bloody murder. So, we have started sleeping you in your sleep positioner again so that we all get our rest. Soon, I think you will become accustomed to being on your tummy and you might even turn into a tummy sleeper like your dad.
You have started to move around quite a bit on your changing table, so I have tried to make it more interesting for you. My friend Anna once gave me a "feel good" button that sings James Brown's song "I Feel Good." We play it while you're getting changed or dressed. You love it!
You spend your days playing, eating, catnapping and cuddling. You are a beautiful boy. Everyday with you is a blessing and I thank God for you all the time. I am so thankful that you are here, that you are happy and healthy and that you are you.
Each day, I fall a little deeper in love with you. I can't wait to see what this next month holds in store for you, my sweet baby.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hey, good lookin'!

One of Andrew's favorite things to do these days is look at that handsome baby in the mirror. Usually, when he sees himself in the mirror, he gets this big smile. Greg and I think he is saying "Hey, good lookin!" We will take him all over the house into every room that has a mirror and let him look for the baby. Sometimes he reaches out to touch his reflection. Sometimes we point out his nose, ears, eyes and mouth.
Another of his favorite things these days is Brody, our pug. His eyes follow Brody all around the room and he gets so excited when Brody comes to sit by him. He will reach out and pat Brody with his chubby little hand. Brody sniffs Andrew and licks his ears, which sometimes gets a giggle. Yesterday, Greg held Andrew out and chased Brody around. Brody went into full retreat mode and Andrew thought it was hilarious. I love hearing Andrew laugh. I think it is absolutely the sweetest sound on this earth.
I think Andrew is slowly beginning to respond to me saying his name. Several times in the past few days, I've called his name and he has turned to me. Of course, there are other times when I try to get his attention and I say his name and nothing happens.
People told me that the fourth month was magical (well they all are, aren't they?) but I think for us five months is going to be even better because I have a feeling our Andrew is going to start really doing some big tricks this month.
I hope one of the big tricks will be learning to take longer naps! Still catnapping throughout the day but still doing so great at night that I feel bad even saying anything about the naps.
As for me, well, I'm hanging in there. I really hate the lonliness factor in my life. I have Andrew and for that I am unspeakably grateful. But, I don't have any friends here and the days are sometimes very long and even weekends seem hard for us because we are not used to this isolated life. We used to have a house full of friends every weekend, with folks dropping by all the time just to visit. Now, we are lucky if we even speak to anyone in person who isn't a waitress or store clerk. Of course, Greg has work and softball, so he isn't in quite the same boat that I'm in. Even so, he is lonely for friendship, too.
I am certainly missing my family right now. My great-nephew Wyatt, who has Cystic Fibrosis, is in the hospital. He turns one in a few days and I so wish I could be there to help out. I'll write a post soon on CF and our Super Wy.
Hope everyone has a great weekend.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Water baby

Summer is definitely here in northwestern Louisiana. Geez! It's HOT! So, I bought my boy a pool. Mind you, it's an inflatable pool and he really can't do anything except sit in it and splash a bit in the couple of inches of water we put in there, but he seems to enjoy it.
Andrew has always loved bathtime. Ever since that first time we put him in his tub he has been a happy boy when he's in the water. In fact, the first time we put him in his tub and I poured water on his head I told Greg he looked like an old lady at the beauty shop getting her hair washed. He was just so relaxed and happy. I have always loved the water. I spent half of my childhood underwater at White Lake, I think. Mama always said when she wanted to check on me and my cousins she would just look for legs sticking out of the water -- that was us perfecting our handstands. If bathtime and pooltime are any indication, it seems Andrew takes after me.
Andrew is such a little wonder. And, sometimes such a mystery -- even now. I worked all last week to institute a nap schedule based on the newest sleep book I'd read. It completely backfired on me. The wake times were so long that Andrew was practically a zombie by the time the next nap time rolled around and his naps got increasingly shorter -- something that happens when babies are overtired. In fact, some of his naps were only 20 minutes. It was terrible! He was so pitiful! And I was running out of things to do to keep him from fussing while waiting for his next nap time.
So, I reverted back to the shorter wake times but he still wasn't napping well. Today I reached out for help on a message board and a lady suggested even shorter wake times. I did what she said and got a one hour nap out of my catnapper. I could hardly believe it. So I will definitely be trying the shorter wake times this week to see if I can get good naps consistently.
Andrew has been slow to roll, probably due to the fact that he has always loathed tummy time. He will roll from his stomach to his back, but not consistently. Last night, I heard hysterical crying while he was going to sleep and went into his room to find that the little bugger had rolled onto his stomach and couldn't get back over. He was so angry! I tried my best to get him to show me his new "trick" today but no luck. He is drooling up a storm and gnawing on anything he can get into his mouth -- including Greg's nose! So, I know there's some major teething going on. When he's on his tummy, he will push up on his arms and can get his butt up in the air. If has something to push on (like my hand) he can scoot forward, but then doesn't really know what to do with his arms, because they get stuck underneath him. It's amazing to watch him learning all these new things. His favorite new thing is eating baby food. He has tried all the veggies and he likes them all -- except peas. But I will keep trying to give him peas because I think he will learn to like them. Next, he gets to try fruits like bananas and apples. I know he will love it!
The big news at our house this week is that I have a new ride -- a minivan! I know it's not very cool and it's cliche but I love it. We had been looking around and found a couple of vans that we were interested in last week. I was worried we would get taken to the cleaners if we tried to trade in my Buick SUV so just for the hell of it I posted an ad on craigslist and we sold it to the very first person who contacted us! So, we went this weekend and bought the van. We picked it up today. Greg said there isn't anything else I can do now to yell to the world "I'm a Mommy!" But I told him there is one more thing -- I can get those little people stickers for the back of my van. Daddy, mommy, baby and doggie!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Sometimes I am nearly brought to my knees by the love I have for Andrew. I remember once when I was telling my sister Renee' about how we were considering the idea of living child free and she said "No, honey, you can't. You HAVE to know this kind of love."
And to anyone still trying to conceive I would now say the same thing. Don't give up. Consider other means to parenthood but don't give up. Because this kind of love is different than any love you've ever known. It's deeper, it's sweeter, it's more tender. It changes your perspective on the world. It makes you fiercer but at the same time it turns you to a pile of mush. It makes you more vulnerable, but it also makes you stronger. It surprises you everyday.
This morning, Andrew was lying on the floor in his room on his quilt my friend Anna made for him, just playing in the morning light as I put diapers in his stacker, picked up dirty blankets and burp cloths and cleaned up his changing table. I looked over at him and he was looking right at me with this big smile on his face. I went to him then, because who could resist? I leaned over him and put my face close to his. He reached his little hand up and patted my cheek.
It was almost like he was saying "I love you" in baby language.
Moments like these are so special. This is what my sister was talking about.
Andrew is every dream I ever dreamed come true. He is so magical, so beautiful. Sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky. Of all the couples out there who struggle to have children, how did we get chosen for this miracle?
I feel so unbelievably blessed and it makes me feel a great responsibility to be the very best mother that I can be.

Friday, May 20, 2011


Hi, I'm Krista, and I'm obsessed with baby sleep. I've heard the first step is to admit you have a problem, so I guess that's what I'm doing.
It all started back when Andrew was a fussy, inconsolable, miserable baby and I was a fussy, inconsolable miserable mommy. I got a NOOK for my birthday and one of the first books I bought was The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg. This is when I started learning to recognize Andrew's sleepy cues and get him to bed before he turned into a pumpkin. At least, that's what we call it in our house. You know, like in Cinderella when at midnight the carriage turns back into a pumpkin.
Soon, I was reading everything I could find on the Internet about baby sleep. I bought several baby sleep books and each time, I'd think I'd found the answer to our issues which are short, inconsistent naps.
I can't really complain about Andrew's sleep at night. He usually sleeps 11 hours or so and doesn't wake for feedings anymore, even though he still occaisionally has a night waking. He talks to himself for a while and then goes back to sleep, usually without crying. Andrew's pediatrician said he's just built to take short naps and that he's getting most of his sleep at night and for me not to worry. But she doesn't have to deal with him after he's had one of his mini-naps. They just don't give him the rest he needs to be happy and content.
The problem with reading all these different books is that each book contradicts the last one I read and nothing they've suggested has worked to get longer more consistent naps out of Andrew. Some folks think it's no big deal, why am I so worried about it. But any stay at home mommy will tell you that a long nap is like a mini vacation and it gives you time to do stuff, like shave your legs or floss.
And, if Andrew were on a more predictible nap schedule, I could perhaps leave the house without screwing up his entire day.
I am jealous of parents who have never picked up any baby sleep books and who don't sweat it and their babies sleep well and take long naps. Maybe if I didn't think about Andrew's sleep so much, he would sleep better. Greg says I'm crazy. And, maybe I am.
In fact, we had another argument about it today. I tried to explain to Greg how important it is for babies to get the sleep they need and how important it is for them to have a daily routine. But he doesn't get it. He even said to me "why don't you just let him go until he falls asleep." Yea, like that is the answer. I told him you don't let your kid eat Cheetos for dinner even if that's what they want, so why would you prevent your child from getting the sleep they need simply because they protest before falling asleep?
Anyway, I am working on getting Andrew on a more consistent nap schedule using this formula -- two hours after he wakes up in the morning, I'll put him down for a nap. If he naps for less than an hour, he will stay in his crib to finish out the hour (he is typically very content in his crib and will simply play with his lovey or his feet during this time). For the other naps of the day, he'll go down 2.5 hours after waking from his last nap. We'll see how this works.
I'm also going to try to start putting him down for the night at 7 p.m. I had been allowing his bedtime to fluctuate based on when he woke up from his last nap. But, lately, his last nap has been ending really late, like around 5:30, so that moves bedtime back to around 8 p.m. and that is a little too late I think. Anyway, we will try this method and see what happens. Fingers crossed that we can get Andrew into a better nap routine.
Any tips are greatly appreciated!

Sunday, May 15, 2011


We've been home for almost a week now and I haven't had to make the transition back to loneliness because Greg was on leave and his dad was here visiting. But, Monday is almost here and I'm dreading Greg's return to work and the quiet that will fall over this house as Andrew and I go about our day.
My trip home to visit my family in North Carolina could have only been better if Greg had been there with us. I was worried, so very worried, before we left. I worried Andrew would cry his eyeballs out on the plane, I worried that he wouldn't sleep well at my parents' house, I worried that after seeing only two faces that all the new ones he'd be bombarded with would upset him.
But, Andrew never ceases to amaze me. He was an angel on the flights and after a couple of stutters the first few nights and then again just before we left when he had a stomach bug, he slept well in my old crib. All those faces seemed to make him happy, not upset. The picture here is of some of Andrew's cousins checking him out for the first time.
He settled into his routine (sleeping til 7 their time, because of the hour time difference and it was wonderful!) and our days were made so much easier by the constant flow of people in and out the door at my mom's. My sisters would come by in the morning, sometimes giving him his bottle or changing his diaper or getting him dressed for the day. Wyatt, who is almost a year old now, would arrive around 8 and Andrew enjoyed watching him crawl around. My parents were a great source of entertainment -- Andrew though my mama was hilarious, giving her his first loud cackles of laughter. My dad gave him lessons each day on how to say "Hey, Papa." There were different toys and lots of them and a swing outside that if we propped him up with blankets and pillows he could sit up and seemed to really enjoy it. In the afternoons, my niece Emily and my nephews would come in and provide more entertainment. My niece Kelli was in and out most everyday and Andrew really loved flirting with her.
I got several much needed breaks -- leaving Andrew with my parents to go get a pedicure, go to the movies, go shopping and out to eat. I even got my hair cut and colored. I was nervous at first about leaving him, not because I was concerned about how he'd be cared for -- my parents know far more about taking care of babies than I do. I was nervous to be away from him. I even let my mom put him down for the night a few times and that first time was so hard because I have always put him to bed. When I got back to my parents' house he was sleeping soundly and my mother proclaimed him to be a "perfect angel."
Our time there felt short, even though it was 19 days. I missed Greg and he missed Andrew so much I thought he was going to catch a flight out to NC. So, I was glad to come home. Now that I'm here, I'm missing my family and dreading the long days ahead.
Sometimes, when I think about Greg deploying to Afghanistan later this year, I almost feel a sense of relief because Andrew and I will be moving back home. But, then I think about how much I'll miss my husband and how much he is going to miss in Andrew's life and I wish we could just stay together, even if it means living here where we are so isolated.
At any rate, I'm looking forward to the day when we see my family again. They love Andrew so much and they lovingly care for him the same way Greg or I would and that is priceless.

Friday, May 13, 2011

First Mother's Day

I was never one of those infertiles who dreads Mother's Day. I do have a wonderful mother and that always gave me something to celebrate on Mother's Day. Admittedly, I have shed a few tears on Mother's Day in the past because I wasn't a mother yet, but most of the time I just treated Mother's Day like any other day. In most recent years, I haven't had the good fortune to be with my mother, but part of the day would be dedicated to talking with her on the phone as she opened her cards and gifts. And, that was good. I was always thankful, as I still am, to have been blessed with such a loving mother who is still "above ground," as she likes to say. With each passing year, I feel like our relationship changes, matures and gets better and better.
This year was particularly special for me because I actually got to spend it with my mother and, of course, it was my first Mother's Day.
I want to remember all the special moments from this day and one day share them with Andrew.
My mom was the first one to wish me a happy Mother's Day, as I fed Andrew his morning bottle, he and I cuddled up on the couch in my parents' living room, making goo goo eyes at each other in the pale morning light. I love those tender moments even though it sometimes seems like they come way too early.
We all got ready and went to church. Andrew looked so handsome in an outfit Greg's mom bought for him. It was a special service -- Mother's Day and baby dedication. I sat beside my mama on the pew with my daddy, my sisters, their husbands and all their children. In the first part of the service, the congregation sang "Because He Lives," it's a familiar hymn but it now has new meaning for me. Here are the words to the second verse:
"How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives.
But greater still the calm assurance,
This child can face uncertain days because He lives."

When we sang those words, my mama reached over and patted my hand. Needless to say, the waterworks started. A few moments later, the men and children in the church were asked to come to the front, take a pink carnation and give them out to all the mothers. My niece, Emily, presented me with my carnation. With a big grin on her face, she held out that flower and said "Happy First Mother's Day." It was so special.
Then, Andrew was part of the baby dedication service. I had debated on whether to participate without Greg there. But, the church we attend here in Louisiana does things very differently and besides, none of my family would have been able to attend if we did it here. So after talking with Greg about it, I decided to go ahead and sign up. I'm so glad I did. It was special for many reasons. First, it was our pastor's last baby dedication service because he's retiring this summer. Andrew slept through the whole thing, like a little angel. The baby dedication service, for anyone who isn't familiar, is a commitment ceremony in which parents promise to raise their child in a way that honors God. The extended families and the church members also participate in the service, promising to give their love and support in raising the child. As part of the dedication, we had to chose a "life verse" from the Bible for Andrew. We chose Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
I was thinking during the service about how long we waited for our son and how much longing and heartache we experienced and now he is here -- our dream came true and he was there, sleeping in my arms. At one point, I was so engrossed in my own thoughts about how Andrew came to be and how special he is that I forgot to say "I will" in response to the pastor.
That evening, my family gathered at my sister Carol's house for a fish fry. Her family loves to fish and always share their bounty with us. It was so yummy! I'm so glad they did it while I was home. We exchanged gifts and took pictures and just enjoyed being together. It was a perfect day. The only thing that could have made it better was if Greg had been there with us.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Welcome to Abiding Andrew, the blog that will chronicle the moments, big and small, that make up our lives as parents to our miracle baby boy. Why do I say he's a miracl? Well, all babies are, of course. But, ours was a long and difficult journey to parenthood. Years of infertility followed by years of fruitless, heartbreaking treatments. Then, our miracle. A little over a year ago, we hedged all our bets on one last chance to conceive a child with our own genetic material. IVF number three was a failure in that it didn't result in a pregnancy, but it gave us three frozen embryos. One of those embryos became our beloved boy, Andrew.
Andrew is four-months old now. He is a happy baby who laughs and smiles and coos. He manages to charm everyone he meets. Everyday, he makes new discoveries (hello, feet!) and learns new things. Sometimes, it's like I can see the wheels turning in his mind. He is a big boy, weighing in at 18 pounds and in the 95th percentile for weight and height, whatever that means. We are so blessed that he is healthy and happy. He makes us laugh everyday and we can't imagine how we lived all those years without him. Welcome to our blog! We hope you'll stick around to see what the future holds for us in the days to come as we continue Abiding Andrew.